The Faked Civil Servant

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What’s in a name?

“I was then put on to somebody who described themselves as head of the correspondence unit who said that Mrs Adams did not exist but was a computer generated name - and presumably also a computer-generated bogus signature as well.”

He added: “What extraordinary events are taking place in 10 Downing Street whereby they send letters from somebody who doesn't exist and expect one to accept this?”

In German politics, they name bridges after such people. The B.B.C. updated its report during the day to explain that according to a spokesman, ‘real names had not been used on correspondence since 2005 for security reasons’; perhaps ‘E. Adams’ is little more than the ‘Alan Smithee’ of government bureaucracy, a convenient subterfuge behind which civil servants can collectively cower.

On the other hand, it may be that here we have the beginnings of a darker tale, in which a doggedly investigative M.P. uncovers a web of deception within the corridors of power. As one civil servant after another turns out to be mysteriously unavailable for comment, eventually the scale of the national Potemkin village is revealed: whatever parts of government can’t be computerised are mostly farmed out to breadline agency staff abroad, while the handful of real bureaucrats in Britain play the parts of a much vaster cast with the aid of cunning disguises, frantically donning new ties and fake moustaches whenever a member of the public must be given the illusion of contact with another civil servant. This, perhaps, is the true reason why no minister ever seems to get far in improving bureaucratic efficiency.

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